Check this out! Free state park passes

Spending a day at an Indiana state park will now be as easy as checking out a book at your local library.

This year, you can check out a pass at your local library that will get two adults and two children into any one of Indiana’s 32 state parks for free. All you need is a library card.

The savings for your family is about $7 — the typical entrance fee per vehicle.

The State Park Centennial Annual Pass Library Check-out Program is a partnership between Indiana State Parks and the Indiana State Library to celebrate the state’s bicentennial and the 100th anniversary of the state park system. The passes will be available for checkout until Dec. 31, Johnson County Public Library Associate Director Ann Alexander said.

Just like you would check out a book or a movie, the passes can be checked out for one week at a time, Alexander said.

The Indiana State Library helped pay for the 240 passes being distributed to libraries across the state, but some local libraries such as Johnson County Public Library were able to purchase more.

The Johnson County Public library bought three additional passes because of anticipated demand judging by the public’s response to passes to other area attractions that are available at the library Alexander said.

Last year, the Johnson County and Greenwood libraries partnered with the Indiana State Museum to offer free family passes to its patrons. The county library had six museum passes in circulation, and they were checked-out a total of 61 times, Alexander said. Nearly 50 people are on a waiting list for a museum pass, Alexander said.

The library anticipates the same demand for the state parks passes.

“This is a nice gesture for people of Indiana,” Alexander said. “This will help families save money on admission into the state parks and give them an opportunity to become more familiar with what the state park system has to offer.”

The Greenwood Public Library also will have one pass that will be available for checkout for a week at a time. At Greenwood and Johnson County, the passes can’t be renewed upon return the same way a book or DVD could. The passes are made available to the next person waiting, Alexander said.

Passes that aren’t returned after seven days will result in a charge of $1 per day. For residents who don’t have a library card, it’s as simple as coming in, applying for one and checking out the state parks pass, or requesting one, Alexander said.

“This is an exceptional opportunity,” Alexander said. “This was designed to have families participate in the celebration of the state’s bicentennial and do things as a family. I hope we have the same amount of people who want park passes as we have museum passes, and I hope they come back from our state parks with questions that they can find the answer to at their local library.”

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Borrow a pass to an Indiana state park:

Residents with library cards can come into their local library and check out a pass for seven days just as you would a book or movie.

The passes allow entry to all 32 Indiana state parks. The passes will get two adults and two children in at no charge.

If Johnson County residents do not have a library card, all they have to do is go to their local library, apply for one and then they’ll become eligible to check out a pass.

The passes will be available all year.